STAR Fans' Forum - 18 January 2006

Fans Forum: Bobby Convey, Kevin Doyle, Marcus Hahnemann and Steven Hunt with 300+ STAR members
Q: Fans are split on whether they love or hate the music after goals. As players, what do you think of this? And, if we were to do what happens in Canada where the music played is a piece chosen by the player scoring the goal (or even making the save!), what would each of you select as your piece of music?
MH - my boys like the dance when we score - I'm not going to score but as good a chance as Murts. My music would be Slipknot and loud.
KD - I like the goal celebrations - beautiful day by U2.
SH - it would have to be Irish so river dance? (MH asked for a demo on the stage!)

Q: There are a few longstanding supporters remaining who can remember Murts scoring a goal that actually mattered (yes he has). What do you feel you can do to help him achieve another one?
SH - he had a shot last night and I got in the way! For the rest of us he's better off not scoring as we would never hear the end of it.

Q: It seems pretty obvious to us that there's great team spirit within the squad at the moment. What do you think is the most important thing to keep that going?
MH had all these 3 here at my place for Christmas day. We are all looking out for each other and making sure everyone is part of the team.

Q: How easy has it been to adjust to life in Reading, and has having other Irishmen about the place helped?
KD - Yes helps a lot as SH joined at same time as me. SH already knew a few from Brentford which also helped. It is a lot easier to get on when we are doing well.

Q: (To KD) Given that your season probably actually started about a year ago how much are you looking forward to the summer break?
KD - My girlfriend is really looking forward to it but I just love playing - intending to get my break at end of April rather than after the play offs!

Q: You've seen a lot of SC in your time at Palace and Brentford; do you feel he's changed at all as a manager? Was he the sole reason you turned Bradford down?
SH - Bradford or Reading what do you think? I was made welcome at Bradford and under pressure to leave Brentford but no choice really. Since I came it has been magnificent and long may it continue.

Q: After your good showing in the Championship this season, what are your chances of making the USA team for the World Cup, and how do you think the USA will do?
BC - Appreciate support; been in team for a few years and a good season with club is the key - so this season has been good in all ways. Hope US will do well, got a really tough group but there is not a better challenge. Nothing better than being in World Cup this summer.
MH - as Murts said, its about time he did something, got a great chance thanks to the team in front of me; clean sheets are there in the statistics even if the coaches don't get to see me play.

Q: Are your families back home in America able to follow your success with Reading? Do you have to send videos home or can they get live coverage of our games when we are on the TV?
MH - Through the official website - my mother-in-law sometimes gets on chat room pages but I don't listen as either the criticism makes you feel bad or praise makes you cocky.
BC - same - we play really early their time but they keep in touch with how we are doing.

Q: (To BC) What do YOU think was the reason for your vast improvement in form this season and do you think you were given a proper chance to cement a first team place last season?
BC - The manager decided to play me. Decided as I had signed for 3 years I was not going to leave and give up. SC was happy that I turned down playing with the national team and did pre-season here. I'm not really any different this season.

Q: With the continuing success of Reading, has it become harder or easier to get mentally and physically prepared before each game?
KD - Sometimes harder sometimes easier. Teams are now playing 5 at back here so they are harder to break down. Not hard to motivate with the Premiership our goal, I just want to play football.

Q: How much of a problem is it when you face a number of games over a short period? Does it not really bother you or do you find yourselves getting staler and looking forward to a break and a chance to freshen up?
SH - Brilliant - I might get a game!

Q: Why does Leroy wear such big shorts, does he have a knee complex?
BC - I had an XL jersey given to me at first, I think they are all based on MH. They couldn't find anything smaller?

Q: Has Sonko ever been caught wearing his underpants over his trousers?
SH - I bought him a pair of underpants to put over his trousers but he refused to wear as he said they were too tight.

Q: Do the Irish lads try to teach the other players how to play Hurling and do the American boys try introducing American Football or Baseball when you all have time to relax?
KD - Shane Long brought kit in one day and we had a go, we have not tried to teach the others as they just seemed bemused.
MH - We use an American football to warm up sometimes but Stacky goes missing - no American style tackling!

Q: Which, if any, of our youngsters do you think could go to the top of the game?
Shane Long has done really well: a lot of strength and speed against men is really good. Simon Cox has done well and no-one looked out of place last night - it is really nice to see how the youngsters coped.

Q: Does SC listen to ideas from the players and take some of them on board or is he in the Brian Clough mould and discuss with you before deciding he's right?
MH - We have a firm called Catalyst come in to look at club with different eyes. This has given the players a chance to express their ideas more easily - it does means players are listened to rather than dismissed as moaning!

Q: Does the gaffer analyse each opponent for you or does he just point out a couple of danger points to watch out for and let you all get on with it?
SH - His attention to detail is really good, we watch a video, get scouts' report for each player and aim to be a step ahead of our opponents. He is very aware, although he says nothing in training if you do something wrong; he just turns away and shakes his head and you know he is disappointed.

Q: Steve Coppell is sometimes criticised for being too quiet during games. Do you like this, or would you rather have a manager who is more demonstrative?
MH - I was on the bench last night and heard him shout Hunty loads of times.
SH - that was to say well done!

Q: If Steve weren't your manager, who would you like to have as manager?
SH - Steve Staunton!

Q: Who on the managerial and coaching staff has made the most difference to you personally since joining the Club and why?
BC - The manager - despite being quiet and the fact he downplays everything, he spoke to me 3 times last season then 3 times in the first week this season. Brian McDermott as reserve team manager last season really helped me to stay focussed.
SH - Wally Downes, as I have to play in defence sometimes - what a culture shock when I played left back for the first time against Sheffield Utd, as it means I have to do things I don't like.

Q: All our widemen have been a much greater force this season than last with accurate crosses, great set pieces, dangerous runs into the box and goals. Steve Coppell at his peak was probably the best wideman in England. How much is Steve personally responsible for the big improvement here?
BC - he has styled a way to play , with 2 wide men stops them defending down one wing. Style SC wants to play has come out this year, last year long ball complaints but this year got the ball down and passed it around.

Q: Which defender (or defence as a whole) in the Championship has been the most difficult to play against so far this season?
KD - QPR's defender Danny Shittu is the biggest man I've ever played against - I couldn't go round him or through him, he is not slow on turn; it was a torrid day for me. I am looking forward to getting him here for last game of season!

Q: How difficult do you find it to keep your feet on the ground and concentration in place for the next game when the fan and media talk is all about when we go up?
MH 15 goals conceded! Everything great, even the game we lost we were trying to win - we had 3 strikers on and when they got a free kick none of them came back to help!. Since them every time have managed to get a result - even at Derby when we really sucked; we could not get going, but even their first goal both Murts and Sonko were on top of me trying to block it. It could have been easy to die out when we let the 2nd in. It shows the spirit we have, like last night to make 8 changes and come back from 2-0 down. It also shows how good the squad is.

Q: What would you each consider to be the toughest game Reading has had so far this year?
BC I think Southampton away, but got a draw; always disappointments as can't play well every single game.

Q: Who else do you each believe deserve promotion along with Reading this year, be it automatically in second place after Reading and/or through the play-offs?
SH - Whoever is in 2nd place (behind us hopefully) will deserve to go up -probably Sheffield Utd or Leeds -not Crystal Palace hopefully!

Q: What do you feel is the difference between Championship football and the way the game is played in the Premiership?
KD - I've never played in the Premiership!
MH - I'm just happy to be here.

Q: Without tempting fate too much, if we were to go up, which teams would you each in particular look forward to playing, and why?
MH - West Brom, they look pretty easy!

Q: Are you told anything about the match officials before games, does their style of refereeing influence the general manner in which you approach the game?
SH - they have got a difficult job or so they say - especially as half are blind as a bat. We want them to be patient and make allowances but they can't with the assessor in the stand.

Q: Diving to exploit the slightest contact in an attempt to win a free kick or penalty seems to be an integral part of the game nowadays. Do you think it is a legitimate tactic?
MH - If our forward yes if theirs no!

Q: A number of players appear to overreact to the slightest contact and attempt to get an opponent sent off. As professional players what do you think of opponents who resort to such tactics?
SH - usually Italian or Spanish players but one of those things in the game now!

Q: Technology in games or keep the human error factor?
KD - human error or what else what can we talk about - Sky Sports would have nothing to talk about!
MH - what would all those retired footballers do then?

Q: What would you want to do if you weren't a footballer?
MH - I spend my spare time playing golf or working on cars - so a mechanic.
BC - I would like to build houses especially one for my mum, but not sure about the early starts!
KD - My mum dug out something I wrote in junior school that said I wanted to be a footballer or an airline pilot.
SH - I can beat MH at golf, so a golfer or a golf caddy.

If a film were to be made of your life, who would you want to play you?
SH - I'm 25 with a few grey hairs so George Clooney
KD - Liam Neeson
MH - Sylvestor Stallone

Q: If you were President of the United States, what would be your first five things to do?
BC - there are so many things to change, I think we should have been prepared for tragedies better than we were.
MH - increase speed limit to 120mph as it is a bigger country; honestly, if only one thing, it would be to stop frivolous law suits as most American don't take responsibility for their own actions.

Q: How easy do you find it to keep your concentration during games when there's not a lot for you to do?
MH - so busy at the Coventry game this time it was unbelievable - all done on Red Bull! I have set routines developed, from when I leave the house, I listen to music on way and on iPod, the same warm up, a tuna fish sandwich, and then the game.

Q: Training - first there and first away or last there and last away?
KD - it used to be when I got there at 9.30 I was first there when I first got here, but I can't get a parking space at that time now! I try to stay back after too. I was meant to share the travel with BC but he can't get out of bed so come in on my own.
BC - I'm the last to arrive every day and 9.59 and 30 sec is not late!

Q: How do you feel you can improve as players?
BC - everyone knows they have weaknesses, always try to improve and it is hard sometimes to stay mentally focussed, I have personal goals and try to achieve them.
SH - my weakness is BC! He has been outstanding but I still think I'm better!

Questions from the floor:

Q: SH be honest, the 5th goal against Brighton was it really over the line?
SH - No. KD wants it to be my goal so that he is challenging Kits for top scorer! If I had headed it, it would have been mine - but because I kicked into the roof of net it looked over the line.

Q: What would you like the fans to do during the game to help motivation?
KD - nothing much needs changing; keep doing more of what you are doing..
MH - the more positive you are the better, the drummer helps. When we are 0-0 at half time and get booed off it doesn't help at all. Alan Pardew has gone and in-the-face motivation gone with him; be positive like our manager as it really helps.

Q: SH, referees: does it wind you up that they base decision on what the punishment is rather than crime committed? They will book for something that if it was in the box they would not give a penalty for.
SH - players are so clever at seeing an opportunity; only you know what your intentions are and it's difficult for referee to know what you intended.

Q:Can you hear actual comments from fans during the game?
MH - I am closest to fans and most are positive - some want to bitch and as they pay their money as long as not offensive its OK. Some people come to game and this is their outlet, others have different ways, like the lady who wrote in and said her sex life has improved since we have been doing well!

Q: Any truth that like Burton we will have Paddy Power on the shirts for the Irish boys?
(BC & MH - who's Paddy Power?)
SH - we are better than Burton!
KD - if they want to pay us!

Q: MH does club make you pay for your shirts?
MH - yes. It all started at Matt Upson's first game when we were spanked for 3 and only scored in last minute in a cup game. I used the cup tradition to give away the unlucky shirt, and then got a letter saying can't give shirt away and that I have to pay for it. That made me determined to give my shirt away and have done so ever since, 3 weeks later Boyd Butler told me the feedback was great so keep doing it!

Q: At the Wolves and Ipswich game it was hard to give the shirt away, do you have trouble with stewards?
MH - They don't like you going near the crowd. I had to use a ladder at Ipswich to get to the Reading fans.

Q: The team keeps going but KD why did you stop playing the 10 yd bucket challenge?
KD - Sky only had a right handed club, and I play left handed, and I was really pleased with the first attempt but later on it was cold and my back was aching so I gave up.

Q: MH you are as good a stopper as I've seen in 50 years of supporting Reading - but before it goes to your head, your kicking needs improving, Stacky was throwing out like Shaka did - can you keep the tempo going like that?
MH - I have a mental block about throwing to Murts! I am working on it, and looking to improve, but our defensive record is based on everyone defending so sometimes when Kits is back defending I can't kick it to him.

Q: BC who do you want to play in Premiership?
BC - Tottenham! It was a big disappointment for me not to go there and know a few players there still and would love to go there.

Q: MH every so often a keeper gets lobbed from half-way line like Beckham or Alonzo did- has it happened to you?
MH - Keepers never used to leave box but now we need to sweep more, this can happen when you think they are going to play a through ball and then change it to a lob.

Q: What is the best goal you have scored for us?
BC - first goal for this club against Millwall
KD - I get the same feeling from every goal, my first goal here took a lot of pressure off me.
SH - come back at the end of the season.

Q: Adie Williams was a hero, but not only could he not take you out but you put him on his backside. Was it just a bad day for him?
KD - yes I managed to run into him for the first goal, sorry!

Q: BC how do you feel when you get taken off 2nd half each game?
BC - no player is happy to come off but SH does so well when he comes on that it is a good combination we have and keeps the level - it doesn't go down at all.

Q: Football rumours: how do you deal with transfer rumours?
KD - I went to hotel after the Coventry game and was told Sid had gone, and they wouldn't believe he had the flu - no-one is leaving this club at the moment.

Q: Do you enjoy national media now they are finally interested in us - looking forward to watching us on match of the day on Saturday?
MH - now press coverage is good, but how many times have we been 9 points ahead and get a column and Sheffield Utd get a full page?

Q: Reading is culturally diverse, what do you bring to the squad and what do the others in the team?
MH - We are Noah's ark - we all come in 2s! (Two Americans, two Irishmen, two from Iceland!) We all have different interest like Kits with his wine but we have a common goal which makes a team. We probably wouldn't have been friends but we are a team and all belong together.

Q: Which player from another team has impressed most?
BC - No-one! Our team has been quietly confident especially since KD has come in, MH has been best keeper and deserves to go to World Cup. We have best players here.

Q: With chants like USA, what do you think of your song?
MH - I guess my name is too long and won't rhyme, so I like USA.
BC - once I understood what you were saying, I was happy to acknowledge my song, it is really great to have the support of you singing the songs. When players don't stay out it is usually because they are injured or exhausted;songs do help.
KD - my one is pretty simple; happy with it. It gives a massive boost when your song is sung and gives you an extra rush of adrenaline and makes a difference.
SH - it will come! - sometimes they sang for me at Brentford but with a c.

Q: It is 30 to watch Palace, what do you think of that?
SH - After the game here, I'll really be up for it on Friday if I can get on!

Q: What do you think of Neil Warnock?
MH - He is one of those managers that his players like but everyone else hates, just one of those guys - he is a great motivator but I REALLY want to finish above Sheffield Utd.

Q: The pre-match huddle: is it always Murts and have you any quotes?
BC - Murts takes a lot of stick but he comes up with some good things, Sonks does it sometimes, and whoever feels inspired will say something.

Q: Compare and contrast this Boxing Day winning at Wolves 2-0 with losing 3-0 2 years ago.
MH - They were 2 completely different teams - bad game then, but things have changed the squad has improved. All the guys who have come in have played a part, like even when we have 3 good players out injured we could still win.

Q: Which was the most exciting game this season?
KD - Crystal Palace at home. Watching was probably great but playing in it was amazing. I hope Friday will be equally entertaining.
Q: The Palace chairman was fined for an article after our game. Do you read these articles and does it spur you on?
MH - it does motivate - like Neil Warnock does.
BC - I try not to read anything, try not to get too high or too low, but sometimes the opposition coaches can motivate.

Q: Friday's game is on Sky does it make a difference?
BC - these 2 (KD and SH) will have to do their hair before the game!
SH - the last game on Sky I had a shocker, I couldn't get near the ball. Lets hope Sky doesn't affect me this week. The players were thanked for their time and frankness, and for the pleasure they've given us this season, and the meeting closed just before 10pm.

Thanks to STAR for the above information supplied to Hob Nob Anyone?

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